Today I want to introduce you to Nereyda, pirate captain of the Storm Raven. However, rather than just describe her to you, I present an excerpt from early in the story. I hope you enjoy meeting Nereyda.
The ocean air breezed through Nereyda’s black hair as her violet eyes gazed at the enormous lumbering vessel across the water. It was the largest cruise ship she had ever seen and it would be carrying some of the wealthiest lords and merchants from the Empire. She didn’t see any other armed passengers aside from any personal bodyguards that were along for the ride. Just as importantly, no cannons were visible. The ship didn’t even have any ports for guns. Easy prey.
Pirates never dared strike so close to the mainland. There was usually far too much naval activity, along with a large number of ports from which reinforcements could be sent. However, Nereyda was confident that they could get in and hit one ship before escaping into the ocean.
“Send them a warning,” she commanded. It wasn’t even really necessary, since there was no way that they could flee or outmaneuver the Storm Raven. Still, they should at least give their target a chance to surrender.
The shot splashed just aft of the cruise ship. A minute later, they had furled their sails and run up a white flag. As they drifted, the Storm Raven pulled alongside them. The crew tossed hooks to link the two vessels. Due to the height of the cruise ship, ladders were extended across the gap.
Nereyda mounted one of the ladders and climbed to the deck of the Luxura, followed by the rest of the boarding party. As she vaulted the railing at top of the ladder, she looked around the deck. The passengers remained seated at tables strewn about the area, apparently enjoying their afternoon tea. All of them wore terrified expressions. Nobody, not even the bodyguards, moved against them.
She yelled to the travelers, “Surrender any gold, jewelry, or any other valuables you have and we’ll let you keep going on your nice little journey. My friends here have some convenient bags. Just toss your things into them as they come around.”
Her crew scattered about the deck, holding up their canvas sacks as the wealthy passengers surrendered their possessions. As they worked on collecting these treasures, Nereyda spotted a table with an open seat where some fluffy looking merchant or lord or whatever sat with his wife, along with another young man. Maybe their son.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked. They just stared at her as she plopped down into the available chair.
“Is now, I guess.” Nereyda reached across the table for the tea pot and an empty cup. After she had poured herself some tea, she pushed aside the tea pot, leaned back in her chair, then lifted her legs to rest her boots on the table, dripping muck onto the table cloth.
“Having a nice trip so far?” she asked in a bright voice, looking around the table.
They gave her no answer other than looking away from her, avoiding eye contact.
“Come now, what happened to all of those manners you rich people spend a fortune to teach your kids. I asked you a question.”
Still no answer from the couple, but the young man leaned forward. “Why should we treat you with any sort of manners?”
“I’m a guest at your table, aren’t I?” Nereyda flashed a smile. “We don’t have to let this be unpleasant.”
“You call robbing our ship pleasant?”
“That depends on how you look at it. I may be taking some of your things, but you should look on the bright side. You get to leave with your clothes on. I’m not taking your food. And, best of all, you get to sail away from here, alive. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.”
“You talk like letting us live is some kind of favor. I’ve seen what your kind do, falling on ships and villages alike, taking what you please and killing whoever gets in your way.”
“You actually missed the bit about how we snatch children away in the night to eat them.” She winked at the young man. “Wouldn’t want our reputation to miss that bit. But is what we do really better than taxing your subjects to death and enslaving your enemies? At least we’re honest about being criminals.”
“You mock us, wench!” The young man jumped to his feet, knocking aside his chair. He drew a sword from his hip and pointed it at Nereyda. “I will not let you leave this ship.”
The pirate captain chuckled. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. You brought a sword to tea? That’s not very gentlemanly. A pity those etiquette lessons didn’t stick.”
“Who are you to talk of etiquette? You sit at our table with your weapons, drink our tea, and laugh at us.”
Nereyda shrugged. “I’m a pirate. I do what I want.”
“Stand and face me, coward.”
She sighed and rolled her eyes as she lazily eased her feet from the top of the table. Pushing herself to her feet, she looked into his eyes with her purple gaze, but did not draw her own weapon. “Do you know how to use that thing?”
“I’ve had lessons since I was a child. I know what I’m doing.”
“Oh, I’m sure you know how to swing it around with all the right moves. Maybe you know where to stick it. But have you had to use it for real?”
She took a step toward him and held his gaze with her own. “Have you ever had to kill a man?” she asked. “Have you ever been one wrong move from losing your own life, or one right one from taking someone else’s?”
His eyes flicked away for a moment. He swallowed but did not respond.
Another step. “Have you ever looked into a man’s eyes as the life left his eyes, just after you spilled his blood and guts from his belly?”
He went pale and shifted uncomfortably on his feet, as if he wanted to retreat but held his ground out of pride. His grip loosened slightly and the sword dipped lower.
A third step and the tip of his blade pressed against her sternum, resting between her breasts. “Now is your chance. You can get your first taste of blood right here, right now. I’d be honored to be your first,” she said with a scarily seductive smile and a wink. “All it takes is one little thrust, or a big one depending on the sword, and you can bring me to my knees. What do you say, boy? I hope you don’t disappoint me.”
The young man let dropped his sword arm to his side and slouched his shoulders.
“Don’t worry. Even the best sometimes have trouble keeping it up.”
“Just take what you want and get out of here.”
“I think my crew is just about done anyway. You’ve been a great date. Thanks for the tea!” Nereyda strutted past him and patted him on the shoulder.
Storm Raven will be released later in 2017! You can sign up for my newsletter to get updates as the launch approaches.